Whoever said “It’s just like learning to ride a bike” was wrong. Yes, you can completely forget a skill you once mastered. I know because I fell off a bike last week. I have the skinned knee to prove it.
My friend Kim breezed onto my street on her very cool bicycle, looking happy and carefree. Suddenly, I wanted a bike. Never mind that I donated my bike to Earl Wright at Project Santa just last year because I never rode it. Seeing Kim made me realize I needed and must absolutely resume riding. So with her permission and an audience that included her and my neighbor Lee Ann, I hopped onto her bike confidently. And immediately crashed.
When I posted the incident to Facebook (because that is, of course, the first thing one should do anytime something interesting happens, even before getting a band-aid), my sister wrote a concerned message back to me. “I hope the embarrassment was not worse than the bloody knee.”
Embarrassment? What embarrassment? When you are as clumsy as I am, you learn to turn your inelegance into an art form. Even Lee Ann commented, after making sure I was ok, that I fell off gracefully. It’s true, if I do say so myself. I didn’t just fall into the street. I turned what was an average mishap into a dramatic somersault.
That takes experience, and I have plenty. Why, it was only last year that I fell out of a booth at Panera Bread. Yes, you read correctly. I fell out of a booth.
I had my laptop there to work, and alleluia, words were flowing easily on a project that had been vexing me. When I finished my coffee, I wanted to refill quickly so as not to lose my groove. I scooted out of the booth purposefully. And landed on my behind. How did that happen? I don’t know. But even before my tush connected with an unforgiving floor, I was laughing.
A woman rushed over to help. “Oh, no! I’ve been meaning to get my CPR training, but I haven’t yet,” she blurted out with a tinge of panic in her voice. And I’m thinking, “CPR? Lady, it’s my rear-end that’s hurt. What kind of CPR do you have in mind?” Bless her heart.
I was nonplussed by the attention I received in Panera. Going horizontal during the half-time show at Kenan Stadium (on the field, not in the stands) helped me get over obsessing about how many people witness my humiliation.
My favorite boss ever didn’t believe my stories about random accidents until the day I came in late to work because an iron garden rod went into my face. (Totally my fault, by the way, not the garden rod’s.) My boss was horrified by my face, but for a veteran klutz like me, a quick trip to the E.R and a few stitches are no big deal.
My husband has become immune to my mishaps. One evening last spring, I stepped into the backyard to talk to him while he was watering flowers. Somehow, before I got to Patrick, I ended up on the ground. One minute I’m walking, and the next minute, I’m admiring the sunset from my back. I got up and brushed myself off.
“I just fell!” I exclaimed, expecting some kind of response. I did get a response, though not what I expected.
“I know,” he said, without looking away from the day lilies he was watering.
“You know?” I answered incredulously. “How did you know? Your back was turned.”
“I know the unmistakable thud of a body hitting the ground,” he said, still focusing on his plants.
I was speechless. Hello, if he knew I fell, why didn’t he offer some help? Finally, he turned to me, and I’m thinking this is the part where he gives me some sympathy. Nope.
“You have pine straw in your hair,” he said. I self-consciously picked the pieces from my hair and headed inside. Just another average day in my clumsy world.
Come to think of it, I probably shouldn’t get a bike.